Vietnam to try 2 Koreans for scaffold collapse that killed 13

By Nguyen Dung, Thanh Nien News

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 The collapsed scaffold at a steel plant construction site in the central province of Ha Tinh on March 25 in which 13 workers were killed. Photo: Nguyen Dung
Two South Korean nationals will stand trial this month along with two Vietnamese for their alleged culpability in a scaffolding collapse that killed 13 people in the central province of Ha Tinh in March.
The Koreans, Kim Jong Wook, 43, and Lee Jae Myeong, 62, have been charged with violating labor safety rules, and can be jailed for up to 12 years if convicted.
They were arrested in May, two months after the deadly accident happening on March 25 at a steel-mill complex invested by Taiwanese-owned Formosa Plastics Group in the Vung Ang Economic Zone.
Both were then employees of Samsung C&T, a construction subsidiary of the electronics giant and a contractor for the project.
Kim was a supervisor for the construction of a breakwater, while Lee was tasked with managing workers on the scaffolding.
Before the collapse, one of the structures had shaken violently and loudly. Kim climbed up a scaffold to check, but did not evacuate workers, according to police's findings. 
Some of the workers fled the site, but Lee allegedly ordered them to return to work, police said. 
Soon after the workers returned, the iron structure, which was 25 meters high, 40 meters long, and 35 meters wide, tumbled down.
Around 50 workers were on it at the time, and 13 were killed and 28 injured.
The accident could have been caused by the low safety of the structure, the province's construction authority said in a report to the construction ministry.
Parts of the structure malfunctioned under the harsh local climate and were not maintained properly, resulting in the failure of its hydraulic system, the authority said.
Construction of the plant, which is expected to cost nearly US$10 billion, began in 2008.
Nguyen Van Thang, chief of the Ha Tinh People's Court, told Thanh Nien Tuesday that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the South Korean embassy in Hanoi and other relevant agencies have been informed of the trial opening on November 16.
He said the court is waiting for their response before releasing further details about the case.
The accident is the second worst in Vietnam’s construction history after the collapse of two spans of a bridge being built in the Mekong Delta in 2007, which killed 55 workers and injured 80 others.
The Can Tho Bridge between Can Tho city and Vinh Long Province was completed in 2010.

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